The article deals with problems related to Russian international policy at the turn of the 21st century aimed at reconstructing the country’s position as a global power. The defeat of the Soviet Union in the cold war confrontation with the United States seriously limited the superpower prerogatives of the Russian Federation as a successor of the Soviet Union in international relations. In the two decades that followed Russia managed to ward off the threat of disintegration of its statehood and to reconstruct it on grounds of a strong authoritarian central rule. A worldwide demand for energy resources helped it build foundations for an expansive resource economy which was concurrently a tool for implementing an imperialistic policy that proves successful especially in Russia’s traditional sphere of influence. With the onset of the 21st century Russia had to face competition from new actors in the multipolar international system that tends to polarize further. The traditional competition with the United States and Europe has expanded onto dynamically developing China and India. At the same time globalization imposes far-fetched cooperation within this configuration curbed by Russia’s inadequate coping with challenges of state modernization. Therefore the growth or decrease of the role of the Russian Federation as a power will largely follow from the efficiency of the reforms it introduces. So far they have shown small dynamism and in a longer perspective barriers to development can contribute to a deterioration of the social, economic and political situation with relevant negative consequences to the international environment.